OTTAWA — Green Party Leader Elizabeth May lampooned Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer Thursday by claiming he would be nothing more than a puppet for U.S. President Donald Trump should he become prime minister.
May made the comment during the first federal leaders’ debate that she, Scheer, and New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh attended.
“I looked at your policies on foreign policy today, Andrew, and I realized if anyone wants to know where you stand just figure out what Trump wants,” May said.
“You want to join with the U.S. and build an anti-ballistic missile system, so you will do what Trump wants,” May said. “He might as well be the ventriloquist and you’re Charlie McCarthy.”
The reference was an obscure one. McCarthy was the ventriloquist puppet partner to late American actor Edgar Bergen. Both man and puppet starred in a popular radio show between 1937 and 1957.
“That’s just false,” Scheer said in response to May’s remark. But instead of returning fire at the Green Party leader, Scheer shifted his focus to attack Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s record on trade and the NAFTA renegotiation.
Trudeau was a no-show at Thursday’s debate hosted by Maclean’s magazine and Citytv. Instead, he held a rally in Edmonton in a riding held by the NDP, shortly before his rivals squared off on a sound stage in downtown Toronto. Trudeau’s absence was marked by an empty lectern.
The links between Scheer and Trump did not let up. Following May’s Trump ventriloquist criticism, Singh jumped in attacking Scheer and Trudeau for their soft rebuke of American child-detention facilities as the U.S.-Mexico border.
Scheer “is not willing to condemn Mr. Trump for his horrible treatment of human beings, fellow brothers and sisters,” Singh said, calling it “another example of how he is no stronger than Mr. Trudeau and cannot provide the strength in leadership that we need.”
Both Trudeau and Scheer have treaded carefully when choosing their words to comment on U.S. policy under the Trump administration.
After the debate, May was asked if comments criticizing world leaders could create challenges in forming international working relationships as prime minister.
The Green leader called on Canada to be “the anti-Trump in the world” earlier in the debate.
“I didn’t say anything pejorative about anyone,” May told reporters, adding that she thinks Canada stands to benefit on the world stage when the country has a leader “who actually understands diplomacy” and international affairs.
“And at some point when someone like President Trump appears to encourage his own citizens to shoot immigrants, it’s wrong not to let him know that’s unacceptable,” May said.
Trump garnered some criticism last month after a rally goer shouted a suggestion to shoot immigrants as a means of stopping border crossers. Instead of immediately condemning the outburst before a crowd of supporters, the U.S. president laughed, smiled, and shook his head.